BRONCOS

State of the Broncos: The 2021 Offensive Player of the Year

Jan 10, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: 4:24 pm
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 12: Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) celebrates with running ba...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Broncos finished the 2021 season with a 7-10 record. It was the team’s fifth-straight losing season. It also marked the sixth-consecutive year in which the franchise failed to make the playoffs.

As a result, Vic Fangio was shown the door. The head coach was 19-30 during his three seasons in Denver. And more change is sure to come.

But that doesn’t mean all was lost. There were still some bright spots during the 2021 campaign.

During the first week of the “State of the Broncos” series, it’s time to highlight some of the good things. It’s a chance to take a look at the positives that a new head coach can build upon.

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OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

On the season, the Broncos averaged just 19.7 points per game. They were in the bottom third in scoring, one of the most-anemic offenses in the NFL.

As a result, Pat Shurmur’s time in Denver is over. The much-maligned offensive coordinator oversaw back-to-back seasons of subpar offense.

Whoever replaces him, however, won’t have a bare cupboard. There are a lot of weapons on the Broncos offense. Unfortunately, the two best might not be returning next season.

Teddy Bridgewater beat out Drew Lock for the starting job during training camp. The veteran quarterback went on to have a solid season.

In 14 starts, Bridgewater finished with a 7-7 campaign. Yes, four of those wins came against the Giants, Jaguars, Jets and Lions. But the QB did provide a steady hand.

On the season, Bridgewater completed 67 percent of his passes, threw for 3,052 yards and 18 touchdowns, and only tossed seven interceptions. He was “Steady Teddy,” which is just what the Broncos wanted.

But he wasn’t the Broncos best offensive player. That honor goes to a running back who will become a free agent this offseason.

Melvin Gordon has never been popular in Denver. In part, that’s because he replaced the hometown hero – Phillip Lindsay. But it also has to do with the fact that he doesn’t show up for the offseason, has had off-the-field issues and has had some ill-timed fumbles, including a back breaker in the season finale against the Chiefs.

But week in and week out, Gordon was the Broncos best offensive player. He was their most-consistent weapon.

On the season, the running back had 203 carries for 918 yards. His counterpart, Javonte Williams, had 203 rushes for 903 yards. What separated Gordon, however, was his ability to find the end zone. He had eight rushing touchdowns, as well as two through the air. Getting into the end zone 10 times, on a bad offense, is impressive.

Williams also had a good year. The rookie had more than 1,200 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns. He’s clearly the future at running back in Denver.

But for 2021, the best offensive player on the Broncos roster was Melvin Gordon.

***

FINAL VOTING

1. Melvin Gordon
2. Javonte Williams
3. Tim Patrick
4. Teddy Bridgewater
5. Lloyd Cushenberry

Broncos

(Graphic by Johnny Hart/Bonneville Denver)...
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State of the Broncos: The 2021 Offensive Player of the Year